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Tanzania: Permits and Transportation

Tanzania is a fascinating country with a lot to offer for expats who take up a foreign assignment there. Our guide on moving to Tanzania has information on different types of visas, work and residence permits, and the various forms of public and private transportation available.
Trains in Tanzania are often old and unreliable.

Classes and Conditions: Residence and Work Permits

There are three different classes of residence and work permits which you can apply for:

  • Class A: for foreign investors
  • Class B: for employees with special skills who have accepted a job for which no local Tanzanian could be found
  • Class C: for volunteers, missionaries, researchers, students, those seeking medical treatment, etc.

If you are interested in investing in Tanzania, you can apply for a Class A permit at the Immigration Services Department headquarters, at the Tanzanian Investment Center (TIC), or at the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) after your arrival. Please see the Immigration Services Department website for a list of documents to submit.

If you need a Class B or Class C permit, then you will need to submit your application before your departure. Your employer will apply for the residence/work permit on your behalf. First the company must prove to the Director of Employment at the Ministry of Labor that they were unsuccessful in their attempts to find a local Tanzanian for the position. The Director will then forward his/her recommendation to the Principal Commissioner of Immigration Service, who will make the final decision on the issuance of a Class B permit.

Your employer will require the following documents from you to apply for your permit:

  • your CV
  • referrals from previous employers
  • your academic records and qualifications
  • a signed employment contract
  • your passport (must be valid for at least one year)
  • passport photos

Any dependents (spouse and children under 18) may be endorsed in your residence permit. In this case, you will also need to provide a marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificates for your children. Please be aware that it can take several months to issue a Class B residence/work permit. After your residence/work permit application has been approved, you will also need to obtain a re-entry pass for each member of your family. This pass allows you to leave and re-enter the country.

Transportation between Cities: No Easy Fare

The transportation infrastructure in Tanzania is quite old and outdated. The government is taking measures to improve it, but at the moment it is far from what one would expect in most developed countries.

By Plane

The safest and most hassle-free way to travel both within the country and to other destinations is by plane. Tanzania has three main international airports: Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) serving Dar es Salaam, Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ) serving Zanzibar City, and Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is located halfway between Arusha and Moshi. In addition, there are several domestic airports connecting the major Tanzanian cities. Although domestic flights are quite frequent (if not always punctual), they are surprisingly expensive. Air Tanzania, ZanAir and Coastal Aviation are the three main domestic airlines.

By Train

If flying is too expensive and you have a bit more time on your hands, you can take the train. Tanzania is served by two railway companies which operate different routes. The first company is Tanzania Railways Limited. It operates two east-west lines, the Central Line, which runs from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma, and the Tanga Line, which runs from Tanga to Arusha, as well as a north-south line from Korogwe to Morogoro which connects the two. Unfortunately, the trains are quite old and unreliable and run rather infrequently. There is also a high risk of theft and pickpocketing on the trains.

TAZARA (The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority) has newer and nicer trains, but they are also not known for their punctuality. The company offers several express trains, such as the Kilimanjaro Express and the Mukuba Express. Especially during holidays, these trains can fill up quickly, so be sure to make your booking well in advance.

By Long-Distance Bus

Taking a long-distance bus is also a way to travel around Tanzania. All these buses are operated by private companies, so do your research when choosing an operator, as some of the buses are old and in disrepair. Buses usually depart early in the morning, as they are not allowed to drive at night, but they will not leave until every seat is taken. As Tanzanian drivers tend to be a bit reckless – a popular saying goes, “Mungu akipenda, tutafika” (If God wills it, we shall arrive) – safety is also an issue to consider.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Gilberto Vieira

"Finding contacts among the expats in Tanzania's tourism industry wasn't half as difficult as I had feared. "

Chen Ming

"Karibu Sana, fellow expats in Dar es Salaam or 'Dar', for short! You'll probably need some tips on the 'do's & 'don't's in Tanzania."

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